Often in politics, there's one mistake that a candidate, try though he might, can never escape. It takes over his campaign, becomes his characterization -- think John Kerry getting stuck with "flip-flopper," or Dukakis' Willie Horton albatross.
For Illinois's Republican candidate for Governor, the issue that sticks to him through the campaign, oddly enough, might not be his far-right views on abortion or his scorn for the minimum wage. Instead, a bill he sponsored just after winning the Republican nomination -- and then quickly abandoned -- is following Bill Brady throughout election season.
The bill would have allowed the use of gas chambers for mass euthanasia of dogs and cats, reversing a ban enacted the year before by the state legislature.
Brady introduced the bill just weeks after the Republican primary for governor, which was still so close at that point that his opponent had yet to concede. It was an astonishing move in a state that has twice as many dog owners as voters, and incumbent Democratic governor Pat Quinn was quick to make political hay of the bill.
Shortly after, Brady removed his name from the list of sponsors of the bill. And now, he's running from it as fast as he can.
Early this week, Brady promised that, if elected governor, he would veto any bill that would allow mass euthanasia of pets.
Why, then, did he sponsor a bill to do just that?
"I realized the consequences associated with the legislation... that the people of Illinois don't want it," Brady said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
But the Capitol Fax blog makes a very astute point: "Trouble is, Brady voted against the original law that banned the mass animal killings not once but twice."
Indeed, when the ban on mass pet gassing came before the legislature in 2009, Brady voted against it both times it came before him.
The Sun-Times reports Gov. Quinn's response:
Quinn hammered Brady on the subject at a debate between the two Sunday night and continued the bashing Monday, saying the issue "has to do with Sen. Brady's judgment."
"Anyone who learned of this was horrified, revolted by what my opponent was proposing," Quinn said. "He was acting in the face of dog and cat owners all over this state and all over this country."
Quinn has already released a 30-second spot on the subject, which the Guardian has described as "America's nastiest political ad."
While it's not the most substantive issue in the governor's race, that may be just what's so damaging about it -- with an electorate deeply unhappy with Governor Quinn's performance, the pet-kill legislation dogging Brady and taking up precious space and time does nothing but good for the incumbent.
Watch Quinn's ad: